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Early and late temporo-spatial effects of contextual interference during perception of facial affect

Fehr, Thorsten
Herrmann, Manfred
Published in International Journal of Psychophysiology. 2009, vol. 74, no. 1, p. 1-13
Abstract Contextual features during recognition of facial affect are assumed to modulate the temporal course of emotional face processing. Here, we simultaneously presented colored backgrounds during valence categorizations of facial expressions. Subjects incidentally learned to perceive negative, neutral and positive expressions within a specific colored context. Subsequently, subjects made fast valence judgments while presented with the same face-color-combinations as in the first run (congruent trials) or with different face-color-combinations (incongruent trials). Incongruent trials induced significantly increased response latencies and significantly decreased performance accuracy. Contextual incongruent information during processing of neutral expressions modulated the P1 and the early posterior negativity (EPN) both localized in occipito-temporal areas. Contextual congruent information during emotional face perception revealed an emotion-related modulation of the P1 for positive expressions and of the N170 and the EPN for negative expressions. Highest amplitude of the N170 was found for negative expressions in a negatively associated context and the N170 amplitude varied with the amount of overall negative information. Incongruent trials with negative expressions elicited a parietal negativity which was localized to superior parietal cortex and which most likely represents a posterior manifestation of the N450 as an indicator of conflict processing. A sustained activation of the late LPP over parietal cortex for all incongruent trials might reflect enhanced engagement with facial expression during task conditions of contextual interference. In conclusion, whereas early components seem to be sensitive to the emotional valence of facial expression in specific contexts, late components seem to subserve interference resolution during emotional face processing.
Keywords Facial expressionsContextual interferenceInterference resolutionERP
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Article (Published version) (725 Kb) - public document Free access
Research group Affective sciences
(ISO format)
FRUEHHOLZ, Sascha, FEHR, Thorsten, HERRMANN, Manfred. Early and late temporo-spatial effects of contextual interference during perception of facial affect. In: International Journal of Psychophysiology, 2009, vol. 74, n° 1, p. 1-13.

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Deposited on : 2018-01-29

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